Bernard Berenson: The Study And Criticism Of Italian Art

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Bernard Berenson was born in Lithuania in 1865, and moved to America when he was 9 years old. Berenson studied art history at Harvard on scholarship, and set off traveling Europe in 1887 with monetary help from patrons, specifically Isabella Stewart Gardner. When money started to run out Berenson still desired to stay in Europe, so he became active in the art market. In 1890 England, Berenson met his future wife, Mary Smith, and with her collaboration, began writing books on Italian art. His most popular writings being, The Drawings of the Florentine Painters (1903), The Study and Criticism of Italian Art (1901), and Three Essays in Method (1927). After a rise to fame from a review on Venetian paintings exposing 33 fakes attributed to Titian, …show more content…
He was introduced to Morelli’s writings through Jean Paul Richter’s critical discussion of Italian pictures in the National Gallery. Richter was one of Morelli’s eager followers. Berenson used Morelli’s techniques as building blocks for his method of connoisseurship by elaborating on his set of traits for establishing an artist. He categorized aspects of a painting into three groups, in order of usefulness in determining who painted the piece, which he calls the Morellian tests. First group holds the ears, hands, folds, and landscapes. Second group has eyes, nose, and mouth, and the third group has chin, overall figure, architecture, color, and contrasts. Unlike Morelli, Berenson believed that all the aspects of a painting point to a specific artist, which was their metaphysics of individuality, rather than a region or school of thinking. Like Morelli, Berenson focused mainly on Italian paintings, perhaps from the bias of his teacher or the time period, or the appreciation of ‘great …show more content…
It has Leonardo traits, but it doesn 't carry his metaphysical individuality. La Bella is the only painting of Leonardo 's to have an object sitting in front of the subject and the viewer. La Belle also most closely resembles the Mona Lisa, who wasn 't painted until 15 years after Belle. The paintings that Leonardo was making at the time period of La Belle were still rather stylized, and all beared some sort of resemblance, La Belle being the odd one out. This method could be useful in determining authorship, if used in conjunction with another method. This method doesn 't account for style change, the ability to grow as an artist, or contemporary preference. Berenson’s tests are helpful in picking up subtle clues about the artist and the artist’s hand, but again, does not account for any semblance of

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